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On Drumcondra Road Lower a row of three-storey red-brick houses with bay windows is set back from the road.

Two of the homes have matching green doors, above which are names written in black on semi-circular windows.

Number 72 is called Killaan Manor and number 74 is Woodlawn House. They were built around 1895, and the street is part of an architectural conservation area.

At the back, both houses have large extensions – together comprising five apartments – which were built without planning permission and rented out as short-term lets until September.

Last year, Dublin City Council rejected two applications by Pinnacle Private Capital Ltd for retention planning permission, to regularise the homes after the fact.

“The development to be retained provides a seriously substandard level of residential amenity,” said the council inspector in both of his reports on the apartments.

The owner appealed the council’s rejections to An Bord Pleanála last August, and the board said it would issue its decisions by November 2023.

Number 72 Drumcondra Road Lower is owned by Pinnacle Private Capital Ltd, according to the land registry, but one of the directors of Pinnacle, Killian Conroy, says the company holds both the properties in trust for a client as part of their pension.

His client, the owner of the homes, built the extensions without applying for planning permission, but is not responsible for the short-term letting, which, he says, was arranged by a previous tenant.

The Department of Housing didn’t respond in time for publication to queries including whether it is a problem that there are few real consequences for breaching planning rules.

“Substandard on Almost Every Metric”

In the back garden of 72 Drumcondra Road Lower, the owner has built two apartments, according to the council inspector’s report.

The report says the council started enforcement proceedings for the unauthorised extension in 2020, and for the short-term letting then too.

The building is in an architectural conservation area, and these are designated to recognise an area’s “special interest or unique historic and architectural character and important contribution to the heritage of the city”, says the inspector’s report.

An owner can build an extension in an architectural conservation area, so long as the extension meets the relevant standards, doesn’t reduce the amenities of neighbouring buildings and achieves a high quality of design, says the report.

The development should “contribute positively to its character and distinctiveness, and take opportunities to protect and enhance the character and appearance of the area”, says the report.

The council planning inspector didn’t think the new homes, built in the back garden of 72 Drumcondra Road Lower achieved the required standard.

“Both apartments are substandard on almost every metric,” wrote the inspector. “Given the wholly unacceptable nature of the development to be retained, a further information request would not be appropriate.”

“The building over most of the rear garden of this house comprises overdevelopment, adversely affects its character and setting, and lowers the standard of residential amenity of the house as a whole,” it says.

Next door, at 74 Drumcondra Road Lower, the inspector found three new apartments – two on the ground floor and one on the first floor. “All three apartments are substandard on almost every metric,” he wrote.

The two reports are similar, but in the case of number 74, there was even less space left for the garden and the new homes overlooked 72 Drumcondra Road Lower to an unacceptable extent, said the council inspector.

Short-Term Letting Rules

Some of the guests shared the planning inspector’s concerns about the quality of the homes, which were advertised on

They were ranked as “passable”, with a score of 5.1 out of 10, based on 204 reviews.

Multiple reviews mentioned issues with water and the location of the flat right beside the bins. “No water for the first 24 hours couldn’t use the loo,” says the last review, for a stay in September 2022.

In April 2022 a guest also said there were issues with the plumbing and the water cutting out for long periods of time.

The council planner’s report shows the council started planning enforcement proceedings for short-term letting at 72 and 74 Drumcondra Road Lower in 2020, but the reviews on from September 2022 suggests that use continued.

In June 2019 the government moved to clarify that planning permission is required to run a short-term let business in a rent-pressure zone. Dublin is a rent-pressure zone.

Genuine home sharers – people renting out their own home when they go away or renting out a room in their home – could continue to do so if they registered with the council.

Last year the government announced that a new system of regulation, a Fáilte Ireland register, would be introduced. That system threatens to hit those breaching the rules with a fine of €300.

The rollout of that register has been delayed though. The EU has reportedly said the plan was too restrictive.

Killian Conroy, a director of Pinnacle Private Capital Ltd, said that the owner, his client, was not responsible for the short-term letting.

The owner rented the homes to a tenant, who ran a short-term-letting business without the owner’s knowledge, he said.

Once the owner realised, he issued that tenant with notice to quit, says Conroy, but he refused to leave. “He refused to move out and this went on for about a year whereby he refused to pay rent.”

He cannot give out his client’s details for legal reasons, he says.

The Appeal

Conroy says his client built the extensions without planning permission, but is now trying to rectify the matter.

Pinnacle applied for planning retention for the apartments behind both 72 and 74, and has appealed to An Bord Pleanála the council’s decisions to reject those applications.

In the appeal for number 74, Pinnacle’s engineer suggests that the company would be willing to consolidate the three apartments behind the original building to create two apartments that would then meet size requirements.

He also suggests building a roof garden to create additional outdoor space for one of the apartments, thereby meeting the requirement for outdoor space.

“The development that is proposed to be retained forms a high-density infill development in a city centre location with excellent public transport and high-quality public amenities in the vicinity of the site,” says the appeal.

It is not visible from the street so it doesn’t impact the conservation of the street, it says.

Killian Conroy says he cannot control how his client manages his properties.

“We are a trustee. We have to act in the interest of the client while obviously maintaining compliance with the relevant rules,” he says. “If somebody has done something that is a mistake or that shouldn’t have been done then obviously we will take measures to correct that.”

If An Bord Pleanála rejects the appeal then the owner will have to take down the unauthorised extensions, says Conroy.

A spokesperson for An Bord Pleanála says that the appeal was lodged on 30 August 2020 and was assigned to an inspector on 14 April 2023.

“There has been a significant turnover of personnel at board level in the organisation over recent months which has resulted in severely restrained capacity at board level and a consequent backlog of cases for determination,” says the spokesperson.

“The replacement of board members and recruitment of additional overall staff resources is progressing and will provide the necessary capacity to address current delays in determining cases,” she says.

Laoise Neylon is a reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach her at

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